Tom Izzo says he’d prefer college hoops to be more like the NBA

Tom Izzo’s team will look more NBA-like this season than it has in years. (USATSI)

A well-renowned college coach who flirted on multiple occasions with jumping to the NBA is now saying he hopes college basketball becomes more like the pros.

Tom Izzo spoke at Big Ten media day on Thursday, and amid discussing why this season’s MSU team — which we think is the 11th best in the country — is one of the best group of shooters he’s ever had, the 60-year-old leader of the Spartans also shared his thoughts on college basketball’s need for further growth.

He wants his sport to adapt, to take the current college basketball rulebook and remake it just like the NBA’s — quarters and all.

“If I was the czar for the day, I’d try to get every rule like the NBA, personally,” Izzo told assembled media in Chicago. “I just think that we’d have a better working relationship.”

This philosophy comes as college basketball is set to undergo major changes to its on-the-court protocol. Remember, this past spring saw legislation approved to reduce the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds, but perhaps most importantly, a true emphasis on physical contact and a heavy review of how blocks and charges are called. The charge arc underneath the basket has also been expanded from three to four feet, which is the same size as the NBA has used for decades.

Izzo is very much in favor of the new steps being taken, especially the shot clock going to 30, but in his mind it’s still not enough in order to enhance college basketball’s watchability and its connectivity to the NBA.

We’ll note that a major faction of college basketball fans prefer the game to the pros for the very reasons that its styles differ from how NBA is played. Still, Izzo said he’d be up for four 10-minute quarters instead of two 20-minutes halves.

“You know, I get disappointed on the committees I’m on,” Izzo said. “I think you always hear, ‘Well, you don’t want to be like the NBA.’ Why not? That’s what the kids want.”

Now, here’s the intriguing part. Just two years ago, I stood next to Izzo in the hallway of the Barclays Center. His team had just won a game over Oklahoma. But at the time, Izzo was extremely concerned with the ticky-tack way the game was being called, and how new rules might impact coaching and the way players would just barrel into the paint to draw fouls. Two years later, it seems he’s come around on a lot of his previous apprehensiveness on those rules.


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